OHN HOLM, the linguist who launched the study of Creole and Pidgin languages, died in Portugal on December 28. As a young man, Holm encountered "Pirate English" spoken on the Caribbean coast, a pidgin language probably derived from British navy and pirate ships in the eighteenth-century. Among his many books are Central American English, Dictionary of Bahamian English (with Alison Watt Shilling), Pidgins and Creoles, Comparative Creole Syntax (with Peter Patrick), and Contact Languages: Critical Concepts in Language Studies (with Susanne Michaelis). He studied languages at the University of Michigan, the Sorbonne, Columbia, and University College London. He taught at the University of the Andes, the College of the Bahamas, Hunter College, the CUNY Graduate Center, and the University of Coimbra.
T IS with great sadness that the friends and colleagues of Paul Heacock announce his death on Saturday, October 17, following a long illness. He was 59.
Paul was hired as a contractor by Cambridge University Press in 1992 to work on the Cambridge International Dictionary of English, and became a full-time staff member in 1994. Working first under Sidney Landau, and then leading the division, Paul expanded Cambridge's range of dictionaries for learners of English. An "early adopter" of technology before there was such a term, Paul drove the digital management of dictionary assets, the development of the Press's extensive corpus holdings, and the integration of corpus research into Cambridge ELT (English Language Teaching) products. Learners across the globe now benefit from his foresight in developing Cambridge Dictionaries Online in partnership with IDM.
Paul accomplished all this with a matchless combination of grace under pressure, creativity, humor, diplomacy, abiding optimism, and indeed playfulness. We will sorely miss him.
Our thoughts are with Paul's family. Those who wish to send condolences and remembrances may write to Wendalyn Nichols, who will ensure they are included in a book of tributes being collected by the Press for the family: email@example.com, subject line: Tribute to Paul Heacock.
We learn from Orin Hargraves the news that lexicographer Adam Kilgarriff died on May 16. Dr. Kilgarriff was not a member of the DSNA, but Orin calls him "a good friend, colleague, and mentor of many of us who are," adding that "his contributions to lexicography, mainly in the form of Sketch Engine and its associated corpora, are immeasurable. Dictionaries now and far into the future are better for the work he has done."
His principal contribution to lexicography is Sketch Engine, a corpora system allowing searches in multiple languages.
Dr. Kilgarriff's blog--started when he realized his cancer would not allow him much time--includes much of interest to our community.
Virginia G. McDavid, Professor of English emerita at Chicago State University, an expert on gender differences in speech, a contributor to many dictionaries, and a consultant on usage and synonyms for The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, died on November 6, 2014, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after a long illness. She was 88.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the midst of the Depression, Dr. McDavid was the daughter of a fireman on the Soo line and a schoolteacher. She often related that women in the mid-1940s had two career choices – nursing or teaching – and she had no interest in nursing. Intending first to teach high school English, her advisor at the University of Minnesota suggested that she look at other types of teaching. She took courses in English, including one with Robert Penn Warren, and graduated with a double major in English and History.
In 1945, with an extra hour in her schedule to fill, she enrolled in a class on American English taught by Harold B. Allen, who studied labeling practices in Samuel Johnson’s dictionary and who had conducted some of the field work for the nascent Linguistic Atlas of the North-Central States. The class proved to be a pivotal moment in Dr. McDavid’s career; she had found the two interests that would fill her professional life: dialect and dictionaries.
At a 1947 Summer Linguistics Institute at the University of Michigan, she studied dialectology with Hans Kurath and met one of the main fieldworkers for the Linguistic Atlas of the Middle and South Atlantic States – Raven I. McDavid, Jr., whom she married in 1950. During the remainder of the 1940s she conducted field research for Professor Allen in Minnesota and, with Raven, in the North-Central States.
Dr. McDavid earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, with a dissertation on verb forms in the Upper Midwest, in 1956, while raising four young children ranging in age from three months to six years old. With her husband, Raven, she was the co-author of numerous articles on dialect and usage. The first of these was “The Relationship of the Speech of American Negroes to the Speech of Whites” (1951), a landmark in the study of African-American English.
She continued to research verb forms and labeling practices in dictionaries for the succeeding 45-plus years. With the publication of Webster’s Third International Dictionary in 1961, she was in the middle of a controversy over the usage note in the entry for “ain’t.” The Third’s entry distinguished between “ain’t” as a contraction for forms of “be” and “not” and forms of “have” and “not,” which was based in part on Dr. McDavid’s dissertation research. She was accused by a professor at the University of Michigan of making numerous errors and suppressing evidence. After pointing out that the evidence was fully laid out in a table in her dissertation, the professor was forced to concede his error.
When her husband joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1957, Dr. McDavid secured a position at Chicago Teacher’s College (now Chicago State University), where she was a member of the faculty until she retired in 1985. She taught courses on English composition, language and culture, and the history of English. Her book Writing Today’s English (1977, with Macklin Thomas) was prepared for her Chicago State students whose experience with Standard English was limited by their racially-segregated experience on the South Side of Chicago. Even after her retirement, Dr. McDavid continued her research, focusing on verb forms in the Linguistic Atlas materials, specifically differences between men and women in the choice of irregular verbs. Her work indicated that women in both the least educated group and those with a high school education consistently used Standard English forms more than men with the same education level. Among informants with a college education, there was little difference.
In the late 1970s, Dr. McDavid, her husband Raven, and a colleague at Chicago State, Dr. Thomas J. Creswell, were asked to be consultants on usage and dialect labels and notes for TheRandom House Dictionary of the English Language (second edition, unabridged). Work on this project began in early 1984. Following Raven’s death in October, 1984, this work was completed by Dr. McDavid and Dr. Creswell in 1987. Dr. McDavid remained Associate Editor of the Linguistic Atlas Project until her death. She was a long-time and prominent member of the American Dialect Society.
Dr. McDavid is survived by her sons, Charlie Jonas (Joan Collins) of San Francisco, Glenn McDavid (Mia) of Roseville, Minnesota, Raven I. McDavid III (Anne) of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Tom McDavid (Joy Werlink) of Auburn, Washington; her daughter, Ann McDavid Reif (Tom Reif) of Aurora, Colorado; thirteen grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters. A memorial service will be held on January 2, 2015 in Colorado Springs.
[Thanks to Grant Barrett for permission to repost this memorial from the American Dialect Society's website.]
Roger Steiner, lexicographer, emeritus professor of linguistics and cognitive science, a Fellow of the Dictionary Society of North America and a member of DSNA since 1977, passed away on 2 November 2012.
The Spring 2011 DSNA Newsletter featured a profile of Mr. Steiner, which you may access here or by scrolling down the right sidebar of this blog.
Below, we reprint the obituary notice that appeared in the University of Delaware's UDaily on 26 November 2012:
9:32 a.m., Nov. 26, 2012--Roger Jacob Steiner, professor emeritus of linguistics and cognitive science, died Nov. 2. He was 88.
Dr. Steiner taught linguistics at the University of Delaware for 33 years.
A lexicographer, his French and English dictionary sold millions of copies. He revised five Spanish and English dictionaries.
Before joining the Delaware faculty, he taught at the University of Bordeaux in France and spent 15 years in the Methodist pastorate. He remained an ordained minister with membership in the Eastern Pennsylvania conference of the United Methodist Church with occasional preaching activity.
Dr. Steiner was a member of the Pennsylvania Society Sons of the Revolution, Lancaster, Pa. chapter, and the Delaware Society Sons of the American Revolution, Maj. Robert Kirkwood Chapter, in Newark, Del., where he served a term as president.
Born in South Byron, Wisc., he served in World War II and graduated from Franklin and Marshall College, cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa. He received both a master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He received a master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary.
He was predeceased by his wife, Ida Kathryn Posey Steiner, and is survived by two sons, David Posey Steiner and Andrew Posey Steiner, and by two grandchildren, Sierra Maria Steiner and Emily Faith Steiner, and by Anthony Wright, who was like a son, of Newark, Del.
Richard Weld Bailey (1939–2011), distinguished scholar of the English language and Fellow of the Dictionary Society of North America, died April 2 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The author, co-author, and editor of more than twenty books, including Images of English (1992), Nineteenth-Century English (1996), and Speaking American: A History of English in the United States (forthcoming, 2011), he was long a prominent member of the Department of English at the University of Michigan, where he introduced many graduate students to linguistic and literary scholarship. Founding editor of Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America from 1979 to 1989 (vols. 1–11), he also served the society as president from 2001 to 2003. He will be greatly missed. Details about a memorial service and other information have been made available online by the English Department at the University of Michigan.
We copy this obituary and tribute, originally posted by Joanne Despres on ADS-L:
I am sorry to have to inform you that Frederick C. Mish, former editor-in-chief, editorial director, and vice president of Merriam-Webster, died on September 27 of this year. In his 29-year career with the company, Fred was responsible for overseeing editorial work on the ninth, tenth, and eleventh editions of the Collegiate Dictionary and numerous other dictionaries and reference books bearing the company's name. A book he was particularly proud to see published during his tenure was Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, for which he did a complete review of the manuscript at the final editing stage. A member of the Dictionary Society of North America, American Dialect Society, Linguistic Society of America, and National Council of Teachers of English, Fred gave frequent public talks on American English and the making of dictionaries and appeared on several nationally televised programs, including William Buckley's Firing Line, CBS Morning News, and Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, spreading the good word about dictionaries and doing his part to dispel common misconceptions. He also raised three sons, Stephen, David, and Andrew, with his wife Judy, and was active in the community life of their home town, Longmeadow, Massachusetts. His colleagues at Merriam-Webster will remember him for his high standards of scholarship and firm sense of commitment to the company's traditional strengths as well as his sensitivity and self-deprecating wit.
The New York Times reports that "Sol Steinmetz, a lexicographer, author and tenured member of Olbom (n.,abbrev., < On Language’s Board of Octogenarian Mentors), whose opinions on matters semantical, grammatical and etymological were widely sought by the news media, died on Oct. 13 in Manhattan. He was 80 and lived in New Rochelle, N.Y." You may view the rest of the obituary here.